Friday, November 30, 2007

Real Life ER

There was a minor tragedy this morning at breakfast. Nicky's favorite toy, 'Moosey,' suffered a rather unfortunate accident resulting from what began as playful rough-housing. As my mother always says, "First you're laughing... then you're crying!"

I've seen things like this on Grey's Anatomy, but I must admit that this is my first real life experience with limb reattachment. How hard could it be? I think I'll give it a try. Anyway, Nicky is hoping for a Christmas miracle.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Personal Time

This morning, while driving to the mechanic's to pick up the Jeep, Gary and I heard a report on NPR about the millennial generation and their views on work. Apparently 'work' is cutting in to their personal time to the detriment of their social lives. When I heard this I asked Gary, "What is this 'personal time' that they speak of? I don't think I am familiar with this concept." Gary smiled and said something like, "That's because you don't work... you have a vocation."

True... very true. But in light of yesterday's post, it is interesting to consider when my personal time begins and my work time ends. I consider Friday personal time... I watch TV, lounge around in my PJ's and try not to think about church stuff. Also, I consider the hours between 6am and 9:45am personal time. I read, eat breakfast with Gary, catch up on the news, and walk the dog or go to the gym. But it is also true that at any moment I could be called to the hospital or to the side of a parishioner in crisis. As long as these are true emergencies, I really do not mind the intrusion on my personal time. Also, during my personal time I enjoy reading theology and reflecting on the spiritual life... and during my work time, I sometimes blog!

While I enjoy my personal time and my work time, I think life works best for me when I don't compartmentalize. My work time informs my personal time and my personal time impacts my work time. (That's not to say I don't need time off... away from phones, e-mails, deadlines and the day to day concerns and complaints of church members!) The best of all would be to live a whole life, balanced by work and leisure.... covered by the umbrella of the vocation and guided by the Holy Spirit.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

All in a Day's Work

There is an interesting conversation thread going around about "The Pastor's Schedule." Coffee pastor started it with his post and I've decided to add my $0.02. I am going to use the format that Beth Quick employed in her post.

1. Days Off: I try to take one full day off each week. For now that day is Friday. Friday does not afford me the opportunity to spend a whole day off with Gary, but it does allow me some uninterrupted alone time, which I always crave at the end of the week. As an introvert, I really need some down time to recharge for the weekend. I also try to take Saturday mornings off, when I am able, which seems to be less often lately.

2. Office Hours: I don't have set office hours, but I am usually in and out of the office between 10am and 5pm Monday through Thursday. The office manager basically knows where I am so she can find me if necessary. There is always the cell phone for communication, too. (Only the church staff has my cell phone number, not the general congregation.) Saturday afternoons I am also in the office. This is when I make most of my baptism and wedding related appointments since most of those folks work during the weekdays.

3. At the Office: At the office I work on my bulletins and sermon, prep for Bible Study and Confirmation classes, work on administrative tasks, write my piece for the newsletter, make phone calls, answer e-mails. I try to get my bulletins and any class preparations done at the beginning of the week and save the end of the week for sermon preparation.

4. Visitation - I don't have any set times for visitation. Being the Associate Pastor, I am responsible for hospital visitations at the beginning of the week (Monday and Tuesday) and Saturday. As for other visits, sometimes I will go out Wednesday or Thursday afternoons. Some weeks I will go to several homes for short visits with communion in one afternoon. Other times I go to one home and visit longer. Sometimes I go out on visits with our Director of Parish Visitation, which adds another dimension of fellowship to these times.

5. Evenings - Like most pastors, some weeks I have many meetings and others are more free. I can usually count on having meetings Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday nights are usually blessedly free from meetings. Thursdays I sometimes have board meetings for the Council of Churches. Saturdays are occasionally busy with concerts or fellowship events. Sundays are reserved for Confirmation (which I lead) and Youth Group (which I don't always attend).

6. Weekends - I think I basically covered weekends above. Whenever possible I try to take Saturday mornings off to spend with Gary. Saturday afternoons are filled with appointments and sermon writing. Sometimes the sermon writing carries over to the evening. Sunday mornings begin at 7:30am when I arrive at church for the 8:00am service and last until 1:00pm, when I finally leave after the third service. There are usually a couple free hours in the afternoon before I have to return for Confirmation and / or Youth Group.

Of course there is much variation on this schedule week to week, depending on specific things that arise (funerals, weddings, denominational meetings). Also, I find there is wonderful flexibility to the 'pastors schedule'. I can make doctors appointments during the day, sneak off for the (very) occasional afternoon nap, or just decide to 'work from home' one day.

Thanks, Coffeepastor, for this thread. It has been fun, and a bit enlightening, to really think about how I spend my week!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wicked Good

In Maine 'wicked' is a synonym for 'really' or 'very.'

That lobstah was wicked good... ayuh.

(Okay, that was a bit stereotypical.)

Last night Gary and I stayed up way past our bedtimes to go see a performance of Wicked at the Bushnell in Hartford. We had good seats in the mezzanine. The story was touching and funny. The sets were amazing. The actors were great. It was a perfect way to spend an evening. Great company... great entertainment... and when we got home at midnight we had a 'midnight snack' of apple pie and ice cream. Yum!

In short, our evening at Wicked was wicked good.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Turkey Day

RevGal Singing Owl writes, "Ah, the day after Thanksgiving--groan! Fortunately, I love Thanksgiving leftovers.Thanksgiving is the American holiday when the greatest number of people travel somewhere else to celebrate. I am posting this from my son’s home in Minnesota where we are recovering from the food shopping and the preparations and the meal and the clean up. It is difficult to think of anything requiring much energy today, and I am enjoying my sweet baby granddaughter, so I will keep it simple. For those of you not in the USA, I apologize for the nationalistic tone of this Friday Five!"

1. Did you go elsewhere for the day, or did you have visitors at your place instead? How was it?

Our town has a huge road race on Thanksgiving every year (10,000 people participate). The church is located right in the middle of all the road race festivities and one of our major fundraisers for youth missions is "selling" our parking lot to those coming in for the race. This year we made $2,200! So that is the long way of saying that we stayed home. No visitors this year.

2. Main course: If it was the turkey, the whole turkey, and nothing but the turkey, was it prepared in an unusual way? Or did you throw tradition to the winds and do something different?

Our very good friends invited us over for Thanksgiving. However, Wednesday night we got a call that they had to leave town due to a family emergency. They gave us their turkey and a couple delicious side dishes. We are roasting the turkey today. It will be accompanied by stuffing, squash, green bean casserole, pumpkin bread, cranberry and apple pie. Our prayers are with our friends and we look forward to sharing the leftovers with them when they get home.

3. Other than the meal, do you have any Thanksgiving customs that you observe every year?

The road race is a new custom that we enjoy. Did I mention that we walked the race this year? It took us about 80 minutes... not bad for a five mile "race." The winner finished in 21 minutes.

4. The day after Thanksgiving is considered a major Christmas shopping day by most US retailers. Do you go out bargain hunting and shop ‘till you drop, or do you stay indoors with the blinds closed? Or something in between?

No way! I wouldn't be caught dead in a shopping mall today. Shopping is not my favorite thing to do anyway, so I would rather pay more for something on a less busy day just to avoid the hassle and crowds.

5. Let the HOLIDAY SEASON commence! When will your Christmas decorations go up?

Today! Okay, since we are going to the theater tonight, maybe we can wait until tomorrow. But, no matter what else we have to do this weekend, the house will be decorated by Sunday night! (Please say a little prayer for patience for Gary!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Charge Conference Reflections

Charge Conference is done for another year. I wouldn't necessarily say it is a relief, but it does feel good. All in all, things went quite well. I would have to say, though, that the honeymoon is over. I have been here three years and Mark has been here four. It is time to get down to business! I'm not complaining, mind you. I think I am ready to get down to business, particularly in the following areas:

1. Contemporary Worship - Something definitely needs to change. While the service is valued by those who attend, we need to do something to grow. Our numbers have been steadily declining and people are getting discouraged (which does not promote spiritual growth). I would love to see us adopt an Emergent Worship model, explore more of the ancient-modern practices, and incorporate more faith sharing and fellowship.

2. Stewardship - We have not paid any Mission Shares yet this year. (Ouch!) Last year we only paid about half. If we keep going in this direction we are going to lose staff. We need to get to the root of our stewardship problems. We need to look at this as a spiritual issue, not a money issue.

3. Evangelism - Okay... this is not my strong suit. But I'm willing to stretch myself. The fact is, we need to become more visible in the community. We need to believe we have something worth sharing... not just because it feels good, but because it is life-saving. One local pastor is having office hours at the Dunkin Donuts. Apparently people are willing to talk to him about faith there who would never step foot in a church. We need to do some things like this.

These are my thoughts for now. Hopefully I will have a chance to expand on them later. Now it's on to Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for these challenges, and all the blessings that come with them!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Five ~ Think about these edition

RevGal Songbird reminds us of the upcoming Thanksgiving Epistle lesson:

"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Philippians 4:8, NRSV)

She then suggests: "Friends, it's nearly Thanksgiving in the U.S. and it's the time of year when we are pressed to name things for which we are thankful. I want to offer a twist on the usual lists and use Paul's letter to the church at Philippi as a model. Name five things that are true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent or worthy of praise. These could be people, organizations, acts, ideas, works of art, pieces of music--whatever comes to mind for you."

So here I go....

1. Having my amazing husband back from Louisiana where he was on a mission trip. (His first one!) Working in a "haz-mat" suit... demolishing houses that will be rebuilt... I commend all that Gary did and the worthy work of the Northshore Disaster Recovery Team.

2. The work of our church this past year. Sunday is our annual Charge Conference and we will celebrate the ministries of 2007 while we look with hope to 2008. Much has happened in 2007 ~ some of it difficult but all of it opening up new opportunities for the Spirit to be at work within us.

3. Swirling leaves and the promise of snow and the ability to just relax and enjoy it. I'm working on this one... the relaxing part, that is. It's hard to practice unbusyness when Charge Conference is on Sunday! I really am trying, though.

4. The newborn baby, Isabella, held this week. She spit-up on my new sweater, but I didn't even care. New life... pure adorableness. It's intoxicating!

5. Chocolate chip cookies made by Mom... tucked away in the freezer for an anytime snack. Pleasing... excellent... worthy of praise. A little taste of home at a moment's notice.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Extravagant Unbusyness Continued

Two weeks ago twelve women from my church spent a weekend away. Our retreat leader led us in a time of peaceful reflection. Our theme was "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World." We laughed about our Martha ways, celebrated our Mary ways, and acknowledged the need for both. It was a great weekend.

We spent part of one afternoon making prayer beads to remind us to trust in God's presence. We were encouraged to keep our prayer beads somewhere close to us, so I am keeping mine on my key chain. At the end of the weekend, as we received Holy Communion, we put a rock in the dump truck on the worship center to represent the busyness or the burden we were leaving behind. We also placed our prayer beads on the table for blessing. It was a moving experience... and a good reminder to balance our Martha and Mary and practice some times of unbusyness.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Friday Five ~ Tuesday Edition

It's true. I have not been keeping up very well with my blogging lately. It's not that anything in particular is getting in the way... just the little things of life. But I could not pass up this great Friday Five. I love the term "extravagant unbusyness." Please excuse me for waiting until Tuesday. Better late than never!

RevGal Sally writes, "I am writing in my official capacity of grump!!! No seriously, with the shops and stores around us filling with Christmas gifts and decorations and the holiday season moving up on us quickly, for many the time from Thanksgiving onwards will be spent in a headlong rush towards Christmas with hardly a time to breathe.... I am looking at the possibility of finding little gaps in the day or the week to spend in extravagant unbusyness (a wonderful phrase coined by fellow revgal Michelle). So given those little gaps, name 5 things you would do to..."

1. care for your body

Sleep seems to be high on my list these days. Sleeping fitfully and waking up tired has become my recent pattern. Napping sounds good... for both body and soul!

2. care for your spirit

As I wrote in an earlier post, my morning devotions allow my 'soul catch up with my body.' I can't skip this important time between me and God just because the holiday craziness is approaching... or, should I say, especially because the holiday craziness is approaching.

3. care for your mind

Reading books of all kinds ~ novels, theology, church growth, biographies. I love to read and I need to make more time for it.... time during the day, that is, before I'm completely exhausted and ready to fall into bed.

4. bring a sparkle to your eye

Date night. Need I say more??

5. place a spring in your step

Nicky is the one responsible for the steps I take... the steps I take outside, at least, walking him around the neighborhood. I call him my personal trainer. Because of him I can do two miles in less than a half an hour. Woof!

Enjoy the time to indulge and dream.... and then for a bonus which one on the list are you determined to put into action?

Which one ? All of them I think. In fact, I think I will practice "extravagant unbusyness" as much as possible between now and Christmas. Anyone with me?